28 October 2006

Bribe or no bribe?

LA Times's School Me today links to an article from the LA-area paper The Daily Breeze, which reports that San Pedro High School is being required by the LAUSD and state educational officials to give up 12 new laptops and projectors given to the social studies department as part of a textbook purchasing deal. The reasoning LAUSD officials and the state gave is that such a technology purpose constitutes a bribe.

Two years ago, we entered into a similar deal with the same textbook publisher, Glencoe, and because I was fortunate enough to have some say with regards to textbook purchasing, I was able to see the other options out there.

While we had the option to get projectors and laptops, we instead chose another option--for every certain number of textbooks we purchased, we were allowed to choose a certain number of hardcover novels from their catalog of novels.

This was an absolutely FANTASTIC option. I'm not much of a textbook person myself--I admit that my own class set of Glencoe textbooks gets opened for about six months out of every school year. But I LOVE novels, and use them frequently in my classes. With this "bribe" from Glencoe, we were able to replace many of our aging novel sets, many of which had been purchased as paperbacks and used continually for over ten years. Trust me when I say that paperbacks were never intended to be continuously subjected to a high schooler's backpack for ten years--we had many novels missing covers and entire chunks of pages, and each time I'd pass out books, I'd also pass around a roll of duct tape so students could do repairs on their books.

Not only were we able to replace many of these books with durably-bound newer versions, but the newer versions also came with many supplementary readings and activities, some of which I use, some of which I don't.

Finally, having this option enabled us to select new novels we hadn't previously used before, and gave us a chance to figure out what students would like and what didn't work with them.

So is the state going to make us give them back to Glencoe? Well, they'll have to show up at my door and physically take them from me if they want them back, and then if they do actually show up, they may just find that all the novels have mysteriously disappeared. Because I'm sure not parting with a single book, at least not to some bureaucrat who tries to protect the children at the expense of the children.

My husband, El Maestro, teaches at a school where the history department just made the same deal as the one at San Pedro High (although, with a much smaller department, the deal at his school involved fewer computers and projectors.) I'm wondering now if that deal is in jeopardy as well.

What a loss.


At 8:05 PM, Blogger EHT said...

If this was a regular part of the package choices every district receives where's the bribe? Last year we had a long laundry list of freebies and then a list of choices.. 1 from column A, 2 from B, etc.

Once again....nonsense is at work!

At 7:31 AM, Blogger IB a Math Teacher said...

If the laptops and projectors are considered school property, I don't see any problem at all.

If when the teachers leave the school, if they take the computers and/or projectors with them, then that is certainly a problem.

When we adopted textbooks, we were given free workshops from the textbook company for inservice days. I'm sure everyone would agree that is okay, why would an equivalent amount of money for equiptment be any different?

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

My district is caught in this problem as well. We, however, never received the projectors and laptops, so it was quite easy to refuse to allow them to be delivered. What's left? A new (expensive!) Social Studies program that relies on the hardware that we don't currently have--talk about frustrating. We have also been able to order class sets of novels, but we are struggling daily with how to adapt the technology-centric textbook to our low-tech classrooms.
While I agree that the entire deal is a little shady (and definitely not fair in terms of smaller textbook companies "competing"), it's frustrating to have the adoption plan signed off on by the Sacramento legislature, but then have the implementation blocked by that same body.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I find the reasoning by LAUSD to be short-sighted-- okay that was too charitable, how 'bout idiotic-- in the extreme. Are the bureaucrats going to provide that equipment out of the budget? Bet not.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Matika said...

My school district was given laptops and projectors for every classroom teacher last year. They were the result of a grant given by GE. We are periodically inserviced on different programs that can be utilized in the classroom.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger A said...

Do you think that the textbook publisher is fearful that, since technology makes it easier to go textbook-free, textbooks are becoming extinct?



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